It doesn’t change the big picture – the Heat are still going to win this series and there are still questions about the construction and future of the Knicks.
But for a day the Knicks got a measure of redemption — the Knicks made the big plays late, Carmelo Anthony outplayed LeBron James, the Knicks got the win and ended their 13-game playoff losing streak. New York got the 89-87 win and now the Heat lead 3-1 heading back to Miami for Game 5 on Wednesday.
It felt like a different Knicks team from the start, with Amare Stoudemire returning to the lineup. But more than that, the Knicks came out with a little fire and a sense of desperation — Stoudemire has 6 points and 4 rebounds in the first quarter, Anthony had 8 points. All game long the Knicks did a good job of having Stoudemire rolling after setting a pick for Melo, or Melo driving and kicking. There was ball movement in the offense.
But the second quarter turned and felt like the rest of the series — the Heat went on a 12-0 run, they suffocated the Knicks with defense and were the team attacking and getting to the line (Miami had 17 second quarter free throws).
But the Knicks would not go quietly into that good night and came back from an 11-point deficit in the fourth quarter to make it a game late.
Anthony finished with 41 and was attacking — with six minutes to go in the game he got the ball in transition and went right at Wade to get the And 1.
But the real key for the Knicks was that Anthony and Stoudemire played well off each other — that is the one sign of hope going forward. Both men were attacking the rim and creating space for the other. The Knicks ran crazy triple screens that the Heat did not defend consistently all game and for once the Knicks made them pay.
It wasn’t all good news for the Knicks — Baron Davis went down in the third quarter with what was later determined to be a dislocated knee cap. He had to be carried off the court. With the team already missing Jeremy Lin, they don’t need to be down another point guard.
And it still came down to a last shot and a last chance for Dwyane Wade three for the win (Stoudemire did a good job defending him on the switch and when Wade lost the handle for a second he was forced into a desperation shot). Wade finished with 22 points, LeBron had 27.
There will be a Game 5, and the Knicks can win a playoff game. There are still a lot of questions to be asked about this team, but for a day New York gets the win and should savor it.